Published June 2006
Gaffney Construction Inc. seems to be everywhere at once.
In recent months, the Everett-based general contractor’s signature red, white and blue banner has shown up at the Monroe Boys & Girls Club, at the newly built Bartell Drugs in Silver Lake and at the First Baptist Church of Everett, where construction is under way on a multimillion-dollar Community Outreach Center.
“We probably always have 10 jobs going,” said Jim Gaffney, president and founder of the 32-year-old commercial contractor. “We might do a job that’s $500 for a customer; we might do another that’s $5 million.”
While the company’s geographic footprint extends from Stanwood to Lynnwood, the majority of its work is done right in its own hometown, and 90 percent comes from satisfied customers and their referrals, he said.
Customers such as Dwayne Lane’s Family of Auto Centers, which has used Gaffney Construction for remodeling and building projects since 1987, including construction of glass showcase gazebos at the auto dealer’s Chrysler Jeep center as well as its Dodge store.
In a 2002 letter of recommendation for the company, Dwayne Lane’s chief executive, Tom Lane, cited Gaffney’s ability to provide quality work, meet construction deadlines and offer competitive pricing.
“I would not hesitate to recommend Gaffney Construction for any project and look forward to utilizing their company again in the future,” Lane concluded.
Those sentiments are echoed by other customers, from the leaders of nonprofit organizations and churches to health-care professionals whose medical and office buildings Gaffney Construction has built over the years.
The reason for customer satisfaction is simple: In an industry known for missed deadlines and mounting change orders, Gaffney Construction always finishes on time, with nine out of 10 jobs finished under budget.
“We’re very efficient — our approach is a team approach. We get our subcontractors on board early on, both from a price standpoint and addressing any issues they might (see),” said Gaffney, whose company has developed close ties to its regular subcontractors.
The team approach extends to the project’s owner and architect, he said, which is key when trying to manage costs in an environment of fluctuating material pricing and gas surcharges.
That meticulous regard for a project’s bottom line is a benefit for any client, but especially so for nonprofit organizations that rely on Gaffney Construction to work within a tight capital budget that doesn’t allow for costly surprises during the building phase.
The Assistance League of Everett, St. Vincent de Paul and the Snohomish County Boys & Girls Clubs are among the many nonprofit groups that have benefited from the contractor’s cost-conscience attitude.
In a 1999 letter to Gaffney, Boys & Girls Clubs Executive Director Bill Tsoukalas wrote, “It seems that you can stretch a dollar farther, without sacrificing quality, than any other company. ... I have no doubt that your company’s success comes from your honesty, trustworthiness and hard work.”
Helping Gaffney fulfill customers’ needs is a staff of 15 full-time employees, with brother Pete and son Joe working as project managers and estimators.
All three grew up in the construction industry, with Jim and Pete’s father, John Gaffney, having owned a paint and drywall business and Joe, a graduate of Central Washington University’s construction management program, having cleaned up at his dad’s job sites during high school.
“We all grew up in that; we came through the ranks, cleaning up construction debris to where we are today,” Jim Gaffney said.
Together, the three often work 10- to 12-hour days, meeting daily to discuss project issues and meeting weekly for luncheons with their project superintendents.
But the company isn’t all work and no play. Every Thursday evening, Gaffney Construction employees and subcontractors get together for golf. The company also holds a golf tournament in August, an annual event Joe put together while he was still in school.
As for the future of Gaffney Construction, Jim Gaffney is content with his company’s place in the market: a commercial contractor completing a wide range of projects close to home, from restoring the Historic Everett Theatre to constructing office buildings and retail outlets.
“We found a niche that we’re real comfortable with,” he said.
© The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA